A Dazzling Relic of Luton’s Prehistoric Past
Wauluds Bank: Early Enclosure and ritual Henge Monument
Wauluds Bank is an ancient enclosure that possibly has Mesolithic origins and later became a ritual Henge Monument before becoming a settlement during the Iron Age and during the Romano British period. With some use during the Medieval Period. It is a “D” shaped enclosure with the River Lea making the straight side of the “D” shape. In the past Leagrave Marsh the area to the west of the river would have been largely impenetratable and the fact our ancestors built the enclosure around the source of the Lea probably means that it was a significantly important feature. The name “Lea” may be derived from the name of the Celtic god of light, Lugus.
There are further features within the Landscape in the Sundon Park playing field to the north as well as a ploughed out Neolithic Long Barrow. The linear features that are seen in the lidar images could be a continuation of the heritage recorded linear features, or they could be something like a Cursus feature.
Wauluds Bank is the very beginnings of the town of Luton with the earliest activity perhaps pushing back to 8 to 10 thousand years before present to a time when Britain was still joined to the continent of Europe via Doggerland. The nearby Icknield Way is possibly one of the oldest routeways there is crossing Britain from deep within East Anglia to the heart of Wessex an ancient trading route where our ancestors lived on the higher grounds of the Chiltern and Chalk escarpments. Just two miles to the North West at Linmere 8000 year old Mesolithic Pits have been recently discovered which are nationally significant. There is so much more within the surrounding landscape nearby to Wauluds Bank. There certainly is plenty of Roman evidence with a Pottery Kiln nearby to the Nissen Hut and possibly a large Roman House or Villa situated in front and to the south of the monument.
The Marsh Farm House (ex Marsh Farm) is now a Youth Hub containing offices for community groups, Marsh House Recording Studio and Fidel Gastro Social Club. For the last 40 odd years it has been used for youth oriented activities. The Nissen Hut from WW2 was used as rehearsal rooms for bands and as a venue for live punk rock gigs, famously in 1979 Crass, Poison Girls and Luton’s UK Decay performed there to a packed crowd. But was has happened to it today? It seems to be fenced off. Note: the council fenced it off to prevent the danger of vandalism. There is ongoing efforts to get this space back up and running as an education facility. Apparently it was set for funding, the covid lockdowns kicked in and funding was then withdrawn. But work to get this back ontrack is ongoing (thanks Jane G) Music by Nostramus “Rise Up Wauluds” a remix of sorts with samples taken from Nostramus’s 1990s album Earthlights. Samples are from local musicians Curtis, MC 13, and Federal (Prince Malachite) all local to the area.
Wauluds Bank is a fascinating and important archaeological site with a rich history dating back thousands of years. It is clear that the area was inhabited and used by people for a variety of purposes throughout the prehistoric, Roman, and medieval periods. There is still much to learn about Wauluds Bank and its surrounding landscape. Further research and excavation would undoubtedly reveal more about the people who lived and worked in the area, and the role that Wauluds Bank played in their lives.
Finally, Why Dazzling?
Lugh, the Celtic god of light, is often referred to as the “Shining One” because he is associated with the sun and its light. The name “Lea” is thought to be derived from his name, which means that the River Lea is also associated with light. Another possible explanation for the name “Dazzling” is that the monument itself is very impressive and beautiful. It is a large, earthwork enclosure that is surrounded by a ditch and bank. The monument is also located on a hill, which gives it a commanding view of the surrounding landscape. Overall, the name “Dazzling” is a fitting description for Wauluds Bank. It is a monument that is associated with light, both in terms of its location and its potential purpose. It is also a monument that is very impressive and beautiful in its own right.
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Serendipity: “If by chance a lucky find” and I sure did!
Amazing Cloud Inversion at Dunstable Downs in Bedfordshire.
After a rainy day, we drove from St Albans to Dunstable Downs, one of our favorite spots. The endless rain finally gave way to a spectacular cloud inversion just as the sun was setting, and we found ourselves driving up the hill into the clouds, or rather, fog!
I quickly checked Drone Assist to make sure there were no other drones or kites in the vicinity of the car park, and then set off my drone, which I call “Buzzy.” She took off into the fog at dusk, and I could see her location thanks to her strobe light.
Since the sun had already set and the fading light of dusk was upon us, I had to turn up the ISO settings to film any footage at all. But as soon as I made this change, the wonderful world view of the Downs above the cloud inversion hugging the topography revealed itself. The end result was jaw-dropping, but the image would be very grainy and noisy. I figured this was a good trade-off, but I would have to look into noise reduction utilities in post.
I had realized from the moment we drove up the hill that I was in a fading light race against time. Luckily, my mobile signal was good up there, so I was able to quickly do my checks and set up.
I had visited the Downs hundreds of times when I lived in Luton, and even worked there for a period. I had seen blizzards up there, leant into the wind, flown a kite, followed ancient maps, and studied the archaeology of the area. I had even cycled down that slope many moons ago, and was rewarded with a spectacular tumble that resulted in a grazed knee and elbow! I was lucky it wasn’t worse!
There is said to be a Roman temple up there that was dedicated to Jupiter. The Icknield Way, which was a broad network of lanes with lower winter routes and higher summer routes, was perhaps used for pasturing sheep on the higher grounds during the summer months. There are also some deep hollow ways traversing the Downs to the foot of nearby Bison Hill, which are ancient to say the least!
On the far side of Pascombe Pit, (shown under the “D” of “Dunstable” on the video thumbnail) is the Five Knolls Barrow complex, as noted by 18th century antiquarian William Stewkley and investigated by Worthington Smith, who lived in Dunstable for a while and famously excavated by Mortimer Wheeler. There were some impressive finds (Google it, or ask an AI!).
The famous California Ballroom used to be situated on the road leading up the hill. I have seen so many bands there, and it was legendary for coach outings from far afield. Sadly, it’s gone now. We used to catch the bus from Stopsley directly to “California” (as the area of the ballroom became known). We would start by drinking a pint or two from the 60s art extravaganza “The Windsock” – a pub – an innovative “wonk” structure set on tripodic leg mounts with a seemingly curvy boat-like design. It was only standing for a decade or so before it was certified as “unsafe” and eventually demolished!
This area and landscape feature was a definitive corner of England, with Dunstable being an important geographically central crossroads of middle England. The ancient Icknield Way crosses the Roman Watling Street here, which was one of the four major Roman British roads. So all in all, after three years, we return to eastern England to the point where east turns into the midlands and home counties, and the visage towards the west. To me, Dunstable and the Downs meant there was hope from the drudgery of living in a claustrophobic busy urban conurbation.
In all the times I ever visited the Downs, I had never witnessed such an event as I did on this occasion. We had not planned to visit the Downs that day; it was a “spontaneous” moment! I hope you enjoy the video!
Scenery shot by drone in 4k Ultra HD with ambiosonic immersive sound. Best experienced on a large screen with Dolby Atmos. Music “Arise Pascombe” by Nostramus Please ‘Like’ Subscribe’, ‘Comment Below’ or click the ‘Bell notification icon’ to be informed when we post the next video. You can help me out by buying my sound creations here… https://nostramus.bandcamp.com/ If you would like to help me out with a donation please head over and make your PayPal payment to paypal.me/dronescapingbritain
Mabinogia : A Cinematic and Musical Journey through West Wales
It’s been a challenging year, with the war in Ukraine and the cost of living crisis weighing on our minds. But despite the hardships, I’ve continued to create the things I love, including short drone-based videos and music.
It’s been too much to keep up with writing and publishing blog posts while I’m also busy creating content. But I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce my new album, Mabinogia V1, which is a soundtrack to my drone footage of West Wales.
The album was inspired by the beauty and wonder of West Wales, the rich history and culture of the region, and the stories told in the Mabinogi tales. I’ve tried to capture the essence of this magical place in my music, and I hope you’ll enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoyed creating it.
Every track on the album was composed directly from my drone footage. I would watch the footage over and over again, letting the images and sounds inspire me musically. I wanted to create music that would complement the visuals and help to tell the story of West Wales.
I’m still learning the ropes of filmmaking, but I’m excited to share my progress with you. I’m currently putting the finishing touches on a film about hillforts in West Wales, and I’ll be sharing more news about that soon.
In the meantime, I hope you’ll take some time to relax and enjoy Mabinogia V1. Find a comfortable chair, set up a large screen and some good speakers, and press play. And if you enjoy the experience, the soundtrack is available in a narrative form on Bandcamp and all major streaming services.
Tranquil Drone Flight around Pen-Clawdd-Mawr Hillfort and beautiful scenery nr Talsan in West Wales
WA2363: Pen Clawdd-Mawr.
Back in April I went out to investigate a series of overlooking Hillforts dotted along the Aeron valley in West Wales.
Not much is known about these ‘Pen Y Gear’s’, research has been minimal but they took up prominent defensive positions along the valley. Each fort was within a couple of miles of the neighbour and most look to have somehow artificially flattened the prominences , before constructing huge banks and ditches in defensive patterns. Maybe these were then topped with huge dry stone walls. Where they really defensive forts? Probably the smaller ones where fortified farmsteads perhaps for larger family farming groups, hunkered down together in a period of danger but usually living and farming the surrounding land.
Today not much is left of the Great Headland Bank as the name translates. Sheep as always are left to graze peacefully atop the green meadows that used to house the Iron Age community that once lived there. The village of Talsarn can be seen across the valley about a mile to the north and it is situated below the peak of TryChrug (343 Metres). Lower on the flank of the summit to the left is an ominous looking spur, this too is a Hillfort, we shall travel there soon. In spring on a sunny day the Aeron Valley is stunningly beautiful and the county of Ceredigion as a whole is one of the most sparsely populated areas in the whole of mainland Britain. ‘Aeron’ itself translates as ‘Berries’ in this case probably Blackberries as they can still be found all over.
Music, a newbie from Nostramus, seemed to fit the mood of the flight. So new is this track that for the time being I will call it “Pen-Clawdd-Mawr” Hope you like it!
A hazardous ground level flight along a steep and narrow coastal path lined with thorny Gorse bushes
Do not attempt this at home. I will not be held responsible for others damaging their drones attempting this type of buffoonery.
If you are after a gentle serene flight around beautiful countryside to relax to , this video might not be for you.
For me it was about control of the aircraft in a really tight situation perched 300 foot atop a windy cliff in Ceredigion.
This is the Cardigan Bay coastal path about three miles south of New Quay at Coybals.
In order to do this I had to keep an eye on possible ramblers approaching and menacing Seagulls who would fly over the cliff from nowhere.
The day was breezy but in the evening there was quite a stiff breeze, hence not wanting to chance my luck over the high cliffs or sea too much. I had walked up this path from the footbridge at the bottom , ooh some 120 feet or so below. The narrow track was becoming encroached with hard thorny Gorse bushes, in places barely 2 foot six inches (80 CMs) So why not try to fly the Mini 2 back down to the footbridge? What could possibly go wrong?
“Buzby” my Mini 2 was drifting slightly in the breezes so I had to really concentrate as I began the controlled flight descent. With me following closely behind.
It would be great to have collated this footage as one graceful sweep, pbut realistically , I ended up taking it really slow and on many occasions I had to correct and make adjustments. At no point did I land or catch or restart the drone, it was one continuous flight. I know I could simply have held the drone and manually walked it down but the truth is I didn’t, I flew it every inch of the way. There was just one occasion where I had to lift off to avoid a very tight spot on the path but came down a couple metres after and continued.
There were many difficulties including dropping altitude, I had the drone set on Cinema but drifting caused by the breeze was a major issue as well as the tight gaps.
I don’t really know why I did this, put my rather expensive drone at risk, I guess I figured it wouldn’t be too much of a drop should the worst case scenario happen. But seeing what happened when I dropped my first drone whilst climbing out of the car it was a really risky business.
As it was on average I flew about three feet above the ground, sometimes lower sometimes a little higher, now and then I popped up to 15 metres or so to look around and then drop back again. I was conscious of the ground sensor so occasionally I would have to correct the drone from lifting.
Eventually I am glad to say I managed to navigate the whole path down the gulley, over the footbridge and then back up the steps the other side before landing without any mishap, thank god! The only caveat was that “Buzby” was covered in dust from flying so low to the ground. I soon had that sorted.
I tell you what though the whole experience has really improved my flying skills Now I am ready for more low flying antics.
Music by Nostramus which is my good self this one I felt because of the disjointed loop mash up style might suit the fast editing. I did have to edit a lot of pausing and swaying about and of course the whole footage is speeded up significantly so the whole episode in real time took 15 minutes has been edited down to two minutes.
Without spoiling too much I hope you enjoy the errr dream sequence part, I couldn’t resit!
I don’t regard this as a “Drone Egg”, film , more of an adventure.
A tranquil Drone Flight around Pen Y Gaer Hillfort and beautiful scenery at Bwlch-Llan in West Wales
WA2393 Pen-y-Gaer, Nantcwnlle, nr Bwlch Llan, Ceredigion https://hillforts.arch.ox.ac.uk/
Back in April I took ‘Buzby’ my drone out to investigate a series of overlooking Hillforts dotted alon the Aeron valley in West Wales. Not much is known about these ‘Pen Y Gear’s’ research has been minimal but they took up prominent defensive positions along the valley. Each fort was within a couple of miles of the neighbour and most look to have somehow artificially flattened the prominences , before constructing huge banks and ditches in defensive patterns. Maybe these were then topped with huge dry stone walls. Where they really defensive forts? Probally the smaller ones where fortified farmsteads perhaps for larger family farming groups, hunkered down together in a period of danger but usually living and farming the surrounding land.
The scenery along the Aeron Valley is stunningly green and beautiful on a bright spring day the hills stand up to 250 metres above the valley floor. The tiny village of Bwlch Llan sits serenely, protected by the Pen Y Gaer prominence and we float peacefully around the village Church. Finally the old master skeleton of a tree sits in proud judgement like a decaying green man as the drone drifts back to earth.
Music a gentle techno acid meditation I wrote back in the 90’s which I later released as part of the “Ruff and Tuff at The Edges” cassette compilation which was co opted by The Hidden Corporation. This project co existed with the genesis of Nostramus. It did have a name I will correct it when I can by for now I will call it Gentle Arpeggio.
Drone Footage of New Quay Harbour a flotilla of Boats and cool ripples across Cardigan Bay.
New Quay Part Three of Three
New Quay Part Three of Three
Drone Footage of New Quay Harbour a flotilla of Boats and cool ripples across Cardigan Bay. I ventured forth on a fine but sultry day in May down to the Quay at New Quay Harbour and my good friend Jon joined me to help spot as I flew around the harbour and adjoining areas. The red boat featured at the beginning usually sails with tourists who want a peak at the Dolphins and Porpoises that often visit the Sea here. It seemed to play to drone camera by performing a wee pirouette for us. As it circled in front of us, the ripples and reflections spiralled away in ever increasing circles as the boat finally returned to it’s moorings.
It was a slow lazy day and folk just coming out of the recent lockdowns were enjoying the warmth of the early summer after a particularly cold spring. So we let ‘Buzby’ my Mini 2 drone take a slow and peaceful glide capturing the serenity of a clam day in the harbour. The Haven Holiday camps with hundreds of self catering caravans were straddling the cliffs overlooking the bay and further on beyond the rocky Llanilla Point the ‘Small Quay’ know as ‘Cei Bach’ can just be made out.
This footage was taken before Part Two of the New Quay series so the red pleasure boat still had its service dinghy attached. It can be seen speeding away towards the end of part two. Just loved the ‘trippy’ mesmerising ripples on this, best watched on at least a 1080p screen with a decent sound for full effect.
Music “Dream Nebula” by Nostramus. I wanted something that would reflect the visual ripples and was set to start afresh on a new piece. But sometimes I play back my video footage whilst randomly setting a playlist of some of my recent music and see if anything pops out. Normally one plus one equals two, we all know that but the strangeness of these things sometimes the film and the sound combine to add a completely different atmosphere, which is what happened here. So “I made it so” to quote Piccard.